Bennett, Book Burning, & Bed Bugs: Orange Is the New Black S3 E2 “Bed Bugs and Beyond” (Netflix)

Orange, Black, or Bleak S3 E2: “Bed Bugs and Beyond”

As a formerly incarcerated person, I have decided to do a deep-dive into the Netflix show Orange Is The New Black to help explain some of the things that folks watching the show without a felony background might not catch.

If you want to get to know my story a bit better, or are frustrated by the pardon of Joe Arpaio (like I am), I wrote this long piece about growing up at the intersection of race, class, privilege, poverty, and ultimately crime in the context of my history and my time in Maricopa County, home of  former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio (it is kind of long, but I am really proud of it).

Thanks for continuing to take this journey with me. If you haven't watched S3 E2 *Spoiler Alert* 

Some Things About Season 3 Episode 2 "Bed Bugs and Beyond”



OITNB S3 E1 “Mother’s Day” is about:

* The Backstory of CO Bennett’s time in Iraq, Bennett also proposes to Daya and makes a visit to Caesar. Mendez’ Mom shows up and wants to adopt Daya’s baby upon birth, promising to pay Aleida and Daya for the privilege.

* Litchfield coming to grips with a bed bug infestation

* Piper dealing with the consequences of lying to Red (she told Red that her store was doing well when, in fact, it was closed). Piper also reveals to Alex that she had her friends report a parole violation to her PO Davy Crockett.

* Nicky bringing CO Luscheck into her and Boo’s plan for selling the Heroin she’s been hiding.

* Caputo finding out that Litchfield is about to close

* Oh, and obviously, Bed Bugs. The title is a reference to a Bed Bug infestation at Litchfield.

Hollaback Girl

I am not sure you would call it a highlight, but Bennett and Companies version of Hollaback Girl was the standout moment of the episode (at least from a humor standpoint).

Things start to get real for CO Bennett when he finds out that George Mendez’ mother is talking with Aleida about adopting and taking care of Daya’s child (under the false pretense that the child is the result of Mendez’ ‘rape’ of Daya (really hard to describe what happened there, Red told Daya to have sex with Mendez because all sex with a CO is legally considered rape).

Anyway, Bennett decides to propose to Daya, she accepts. After listening to Aleida talk about how much better Ms. Powell could make the babies life, he decides to visit Caesar to see what raising babies poor might look like.

After seeing how Caesar is living, Bennett decides that discretion is the better part of valor (just like he did in Iraq when a grenade was thrown into his tent) and he decides to leave both the prison and Daya.

Most likely, he is telling himself that he is doing it for the child, but I think the inclusion of the Iraq footage, and especially the footage where he lets another soldier dive on a grenade instead of him means that he is really doing it for himself. When things were consequence free and he could have free sex and dream about being a Dad, he was all in but when push came to shove he was out of there faster than the Roadrunner in Loony Tunes.

Generally, I have stayed entirely away from the Bennett/Daya storyline because I find it totally absurd. But, since this is the end of the Bennett part, I figured that I should probably at least discuss it.

“A Selfish Little Person”

We see two examples of Piper being manipulative in order to make the prison and life respond to her will. First, Red calls her out for lying to her about the store (telling her that it was doing well instead of telling her that when she visited it was closed down).

Red suggests that Piper did not withhold the information to protect Red’s feelings as much as to make her like Piper more (after reading her the riot act as only Red can do).

Alex is having a nervous breakdown while blaming herself for getting thrown back in Litchfield (which honestly makes zero sense, why would Alex beat herself up, she was “screwed” on the outside because of Cubra and now she is relatively safe). The breakdown is getting so bad that

Alex is so distraught that she is talking back to CO’s and risking serious disciplinary action, so Piper discloses that she dropped a dime, having her friends call PO Davy Crockett on Alex’s parole violations in the first place.

For some reason, this results in angry revenge sex between Alex and Piper as, I guess, both of them accept that they love each other despite being often unquestionably manipulative and awful to each other on a regular basis.

So, yes, Piper is very emotionally manipulative, and as she realizes halfway through the episode, she has turned into her mother (maintaining the illusion of having sweet intentions on the outside all while manipulating the world and situations to her liking in reality).

Bed Bugs and Ballyhoo

I never encountered Bed Bugs on the inside, but since my release, I spent several years living in a place that was infested.

Why would I stay in a place with Bed Bugs for a long time (and where I have endured literally thousands of bites)?

It is very hard when you are a formerly incarcerated person to get housing, even harder when you have a sexually related crime (I was caught in an online sting, I said some terrible things but never tried to meet anyone etc.).

My take on post-prison life is pretty simple. Yes, I deserved to be punished for what I did but once I served my sentence, I have paid my debt to society.

We, formerly incarcerated folks might owe our victims an eternal debt, but we don’t owe society anything beyond what we were sentenced to. You can try to debate this, or tell me I am a terrible person, but you are not going to convince me that I owe anyone anything other than being a good person and community member.

And before anyone starts telling me how I haven’t paid my debt, I got caught in an online-only crime and as a result lost my career (of twenty years), lost literally thousands of friends, lost every dollar I had, lost many family relationships, and lost my freedom for three years. When I came out, I was saddled with massive debt (my monitoring fees on parole were higher than my rent), couldn’t get a job washing dishes, and had a hard time finding a place to live.

I totally agree that I deserved to be punished, and I did my time with grace. But I paid, and am paying, a very steep price. And I have no idea how removing all hope from returning citizens makes the world safer at all.

Economic insecurity is an engine of recidivism. Loading people up with court fines and fees when they get out (massive debt), and making it nearly impossible to get housing or to get a job cannot possibly make anyone in society safer.

In fact, if you tried to design the worst possible re-entry system, we would have it.

Anyway, we formerly incarcerated folk face massive housing discrimination. So, when we have a place, no matter what is happening at that place, you have to make the best of it you can. Getting thrown out is terrifying and homelessness is a real risk. Bed bug bites, while annoying, are a small price to pay for having a roof over your head (and I have had literally thousands of bites).

And I don’t want to act like a jerk here, my landlord is a great guy, he actually cares about his properties and his tenants (even about trying to eradicate pests). Bed bugs are really devious and hard to eradicate, but we have finally seen good treatment results lately (thank God). I am thankful every day when I wake up itch free.

FYI, Piper is right about how sophisticated Bed Bugs are.

Bed Bugs secrete an enzyme that numbs your skin before they bite, many times you have no idea they are even on you much less biting. In addition, they mostly bite when you are sleeping (they are drawn by the differences in sleep breathing) so you have even less chance of noticing them until it is too late. They also excrete a substance that coagulates the bites so you don’t bleed after bites

If I didn’t hate them so much, I would kind of admire them. They are so hard to kill because they hide in nooks and crannies of old houses (my place is over 100 years old) and in clothes and they lay eggs which outlast them.

I am hopeful that we have finally dealt with our Bed Bug problem (knock wood). I hope and pray that you never have to deal with them yourself (they really suck). Hope that didn’t gross anyone out (also 91% rubbing alcohol is a good short-term solution).

So, in case you were wondering, Bed Bugs are really terrible.

Unlocking The Gates

OITNB Riot Pic.jpg

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